, Port Arthur, Texas

June 12, 2013

OUTDOORS COLUMN: “Mr. Crappie” talks slabs

Chester Moore, Jr.
Associated Press

PORT ARTHUR — "Mr. Crappie” is the perfect nickname for Wally Marshall.

     Yes, he has his own line of top-selling crappie fishing videos, a television show and dozens of crappie-related fishing products to his name.

     But the man lives, eats and breathes crappie fishing.

     “It’s what I do,” he said.

     Last week I ran into Marshall at Lake Fork Lodge while conducting a photo shoot with Bassmaster Classic (2008) Champion Alton Jones.

    I have known Marshall for a number of years but we had never fished together so he invited me out to remedy that late last Thursday.

      “You really won’t have an impact on fishing unless you know how to use electronics. It is important for any kind of fishing but to consistently locate crappie it is crucial,” Marshall said.

      Marshall said this as we idled into a cove loaded with timber that anglers could spend hours trying to find fish otherwise.

     “Side-imaging sonar has changed the way we fish. You can set it to read out to 200 feet but I keep mine around 90 feet so the image is clear. In addition there is a split screen option to see what is below the boat and with a fish like crappie that hold tight to cover and structure that is so important.”

    Marshall said the spot we were fishing was a brushpile that stretched between two trees.

    “What we’re going to be fishing with is a jig I have out through Strike King called The Joker. It has incredible action and really lures in the crappie,” he said.

    We fished these lures on long fly style poles Marshall has out through Lew’s and on six-pound test line.

    “Throw right there,” he said pointing to the corner of a tree.


     A keeper black crappie hit my line and then a few seconds later Marshall had one on.

    “Yesterday it was all whites. Interesting that some blacks moved in,” he said.

    Black and white crappie are both structure-loving fish but will sometimes be found in different areas.

     “These crappie will move to different spots from day to day. Not all of them of course but they move more than people think,” he said.

    The day was overcast and Marshall said he hoped the sun would come out.

    “When it is overcast the fish are scattered but when the sun is bright they hold tighter to the cover,” he said.

    And he was right.

    As soon as the sun came out the bite turned on, I caught a two-pound white crappie. A few minutes later Marshall did the same thing.

    “I told you there are some big fish here,” he said.

     Marshall said Lake Lavon is “bar none” the best crappie fishery in the state right now but that he just returned from a 100 fish day on Rayburn and that Lake Fork is real sleeper for slabs.

    “This lake not only produces big bass but also big crappie and lots of them,” he said.

      Crappie fishing is gaining in popularity in Texas and Marshall said that is because of access.

    “Most lakes have a good crappie population and there is nothing more fun than catching a mess of slabs for the frying pan with your family. If you have not been in awhile go. The fishing is great in Texas right now,” Marshall said.

    “If you haven’t started get after it. You will have loads of fun and at the end of the day that is what fishing is all about.”

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(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at